Ex-Raiders WR Henry Ruggs III sentenced 3 to 10 years for fatal DUI

Former Las Vegas Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs III was sentenced Wednesday to three to 10 years in prison for a November 2021 drunken driving crash that killed a Las Vegas woman and her dog.

Ruggs could be eligible for parole after three years.

Clark County District Court judge Jennifer Schwartz told Ruggs on Wednesday that it was one of the more tragic cases she has seen.

Ruggs, 24, had been under house arrest with alcohol and location electronic monitoring devices since pleading guilty in May to one count of DUI resulting in death and one count of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the crash that killed Tina Tintor and her dog, Max. On Wednesday, Ruggs read from a statement directed at Tintor's family in which he apologized for his actions.

"To the parents and family of Ms. Tintor, I sincerely apologize for the pain and suffering," Ruggs said.

Standing between his lawyers in a dark blue suit, Ruggs addressed Schwartz and said he let his "family, teammates and those that believed in me down with my actions." He said that he had searched for answers over the past 21 months since the crash to explain his actions but offers no excuses and hopes to begin the healing process, for himself and others involved. Ruggs hopes to raise awareness of the dangers of driving both impaired and with excessive speed.

"My actions are not a true reflection of me," Ruggs said.

Ruggs had faced three to 10 years in a Nevada state prison since May. The Raiders cut Ruggs the day after the crash.

Wednesday marked the first time anyone in Tintor's immediate family had spoken publicly about the crash. Tintor came to the United States as a toddler and was the anchor of a family that escaped war-torn Serbia. She helped her father navigate language barriers, babysat her nephew and was supposed to pick up her dad from work the morning she died. The family has been a fixture at Ruggs' hearings over the past two years.

Speaking after Ruggs and defense attorney David Chesnoff, Tintor's cousin, Daniel Strbac, read a statement on behalf of Tintor's mother, Mirjana Komazec.

"We pray that this terrible accident inspires positive change in the world," the statement read in part. "From the bottom of hearts, we absolutely love and appreciate all members of our church, Raider Nation, the city of Las Vegas community and every individual who has shown up to remind us that we are not alone, and that Tina and Max are not alone."

Chief Deputy District Attorney Eric Bauman handles thousands of cases, but he has kept the Ruggs file prominently on his desk for nearly two years. He said he has stopped at Tintor's memorial and left tennis balls for Max.

"It was a horrific case," Bauman said. "What sticks with me the most about it ... the crash didn't kill her. She could've walked away from the impact and lived a completely normal life. But she burned to death, and her dog burned to death, and she suffered. It haunts me. I drive past the memorial all the time and stop and just the thought of it never leaves my mind."

Tintor, who was 23, and Max died from thermal injuries, a coroner ruled in December 2021.

In May, around the time of the plea deal, the Clark County District Attorney's office issued a statement saying it believed that issues with the search warrant obtained by police for Ruggs' blood draw in the hospital could have caused the DUI death charge to be dismissed if there was no plea deal.

Earlier this year, the Clark County District Attorney's office, along with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, lobbied in favor of bills that would increase the penalties for cases similar to Ruggs'. Both bills were rejected by the state legislature.

Lindsey Valdez, director of mission operations for MADD, was in the courtroom Wednesday to provide support for Tintor's family.

"Today is a very heavy day," Valdez said. "I think it marks a point in the case where there is some resolve on the criminal side of the case. But unfortunately that doesn't really mean an end for the family or their healing process."

In court documents filed before the sentencing hearing, Ruggs' attorneys had asked the judge to keep the duration of their client's prison time to a range of three to 10 years. Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld said Ruggs "wishes that he could turn back time and change the outcome of the tragic events of November 2, 2021."

The attorneys submitted a doctor's analysis of Ruggs' life and health, information about his background and a collection of testimonial letters in support of Ruggs. Several of the letters were from teachers and staff at Dr. Percy L. Julian High School (still Robert E. Lee High School when Ruggs was there) in Montgomery, Alabama, where Ruggs became a star. Mike Locksley, who coached Ruggs in college at Alabama, also wrote a letter on Ruggs' behalf. He is now the head coach at Maryland.

According to police, on Nov. 2, 2021, Ruggs was driving drunk and reached speeds of 156 mph just seconds before crashing his Chevrolet Corvette Stingray into Tintor's Toyota RAV4, which was traveling just over 43 mph. Tintor's RAV4 was propelled 571 feet. A blood draw about two hours after the crash revealed that Ruggs' blood alcohol level was 0.161 -- more than twice the legal limit in Nevada.

In the hours before the crash, police said that Ruggs was at Topgolf near the Strip with three other people, including his girlfriend, Kiara Je'nai Kilgo-Washington. Police cited an itemized copy of a Topgolf receipt, which showed a tab under Kilgo-Washington's name was billed for food, drinks and game play. The group was billed for 20 drinks, most of which contained tequila, police said. Police also said that Ruggs and Kilgo-Washington were at a friend's house for about three hours before the crash. According to police, Ruggs was playing pool and learning to play poker at the friend's house.

Outside of a few words in court, Ruggs has not spoken publicly about the case. But police did obtain the transcript of a phone call from prison the day after the crash in which Ruggs, speaking to an unidentified man, admitted to being drunk. He also said on the call, which lasted five minutes, that the last thing he remembered before the crash was learning to play poker. "I don't even remember leaving," he said, according to the transcription obtained by police.

A court ruling last year allowed Ruggs to leave home confinement twice a week to work out at a training center in the Las Vegas Valley. Around that same time, the court let him go to California for a then-unspecified medical treatment. Documents filed by Ruggs' lawyers Aug. 1 said that Ruggs was treated for in-patient trauma from May 2 to May 30, 2022, at Mental Health Collective in Newport Beach, California. The documents said that Ruggs received 24-hour residential treatment for a diagnosis of PTSD, according to clinical director Kristen Zaleski.

Kilgo-Washington was in the car with Ruggs and also was injured. A police report said she had a broken arm.

Ruggs was the Raiders' first draft pick after they arrived in Las Vegas. He was taken 12th overall in 2020 and played 20 games for the franchise.